Pope Francis addresses participants in the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and stresses the importance of rediscovering the value and beauty of family life, despite the changes and protracted crises affecting families.
By Vatican News reporter
During the last three days, the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences took place in the Vatican under the theme “The family as a relational good: the challenge of love”.
Greeting participants on Friday, Pope Francis went to the heart of this theme, focusing his attention on marriage and the challenges facing families today.
Challenges to family life
He noted that “social changes are altering the living conditions of marriage and families everywhere” and that “protracted and multiple crises” are straining family life.
His antidote to this was to “rediscover the value of the family as the source and origin of social order, as the vital cell of a fraternal society capable of caring for the common home”.
Pope Francis has pointed out that despite the many changes marriage and family have undergone over the centuries, there are “common and enduring features” that reveal the greatness and value of both. But, he warned, “if this value is lived in an individualistic and private way, as is partly the case in the West, the family can become isolated and fragmented within the context of society”.
The pope went on to say that it was important to understand that “the family is good for society, not insofar as it is a simple aggregation of individuals, but insofar as it is a relationship based on a ‘bond of mutual perfection'”.
The good of the family, Pope Francis said, “consists in sharing relationships of faithful love, trust, cooperation, reciprocity,” which make them happy.
The Church and the Family
The Pope underlined that “the social thought of the Church helps to understand this relational love proper to the family, as the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia sought to do, in the wake of the great tradition, but with this tradition, take a step forward. ”
He also stressed that the family “is a place of welcome”, adding that its qualities are “particularly evident in families where there are fragile or handicapped members. These families, he said, “develop special virtues, which strengthen the capacity for love and patient endurance in the face of life’s difficulties”.
He also highlighted families “which generate benefits for society as a whole, including adoptive and foster families and noted that the family “is the main antidote to poverty”.
In his address, Pope Francis underlined that family-friendly social, economic and cultural policies should be promoted in all countries that help harmonize family life.
Rediscover the beauty of family life
Turning his attention again to the theme of “rediscovering” the beauty of family life, the Pope said there were certain conditions.
The first, he continued, “is to remove from the mind’s eye the ‘cataracts’ of ideologies that keep us from seeing reality.”
“The second condition is the rediscovery of the correspondence between natural marriage and sacramental marriage.
Finally, specifying the third condition, he draws on his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia which recalls the awareness that the grace of the sacrament of marriage – which is the “social” sacrament par excellence – heals and uplifts the whole of human society and is a leaven of fraternity.